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B2B Dealers – Where’s your place in this new world of content marketing?
Jessica Best / Hanley Wood Marketing / January 17, 2013
So here’s a question for B2B dealers and distributors: Where’s your place in this new world of content marketing?
Answer: How about smack dab in the middle, where you’re already accustomed to adding value?
As a content marketing middleman between suppliers and end-user customers, your brand might not be as big or as well-known as the manufacturers whose products you represent. But if you operate in a one- or two-step distribution channel, you are perfectly situated to create killer content. And that content strategy, done well, can be a major win-win for your business, your suppliers and your customers.
After all, who better to reach out to customers? You understand what you’re selling, and who you’re selling to. If you play your cards right, you could position yourself as that most valuable of resources: the expert.
It can be as simple as a blog. Think about the questions and challenges your customers have, and answer them. Review products. Focus on providing something customers can use. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to try video.
Dealers Doing Content Marketing: A Concrete Example
Consider Owen Blevins. Two years ago Blevins was vice president of Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment, a dealer in concrete-related machinery. These products can be a big investment for Mid Atlantic’s customer base, which includes mom-and-pop operations across the Northeast. Since you can’t exactly lug around a cement plant for demonstrations, Blevins had to get creative.
His solution: A YouTube channel. Concrete Answers TV.
Each 3- to 5-minute video highlights one of Mid Atlantic’s latest product offerings. Sometimes Blevins acts as on-screen tour guide and field reporter. Sometimes he’s in the role of in-studio news anchor, introducing footage of a guest demonstrating the product. But each episode begins the same distinctive way: “Hey Creteheads! Owen Blevins here, bringing YOU the Internet’s most passionate show about concrete plants and equipment…”
So far, Blevins’ videos have received a combined 102,000 views. Online traffic to Mid Atlantic has surged as a result: 3,000 to 4,000 hits a month, within a fairly niche B2B product category and geographic service area. Blevins declined to name exact numbers, but says the heightened visibility and web traffic has definitely led to an uptick in qualified leads and closed new business.
Manufacturers Value Dealers Who Do Content
There have been other benefits, as well. “We grew from literally half a dozen vendors to well over 25 vendors in the couple of years that we started doing these videos, because they loved it,” says Blevins.
“They were like, ‘Wow, you’re gonna do this for us? You’re not gonna charge us?’” And I said, ‘No, I’m gonna do this for my audience…’” Several vendors were even grateful enough for the added, value-adding exposure for their products that they’ve agreed to an exclusive relationship with Mid Atlantic.
Relating to the customer, however, remains key to success, Blevins says. “’What problem can you solve for me?’ That’s what my videos focus on. ‘Here’s a product that will solve a problem.’’”
If they haven’t undertaken a concerted content effort already, Blevins says, dealers and distributors should be aggressive in getting their content marketing launched. Industries with little or no value-adding content being created for customers offer the most opportunity. In part, he says, because it’s easier for your content to be found and heard “above the noise” when there isn’t that much noise to begin with.
Contents Marketing Opens New Opportunities
That said, if your competitors have been slow to adopt content marketing, know that it probably won’t be quiet in your category forever. “I know I’m on the bleeding edge a bit,” says Blevins, “but more and more people are following. I’m seeing websites that I visit of my competitors. They’re seeing what I’m doing, and they’re copying. You know what they say, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ I’ve got some people chasing me.”
Still, there’s only one Concrete Answers. In two years, Blevins wound up with a personal brand built around knowledge and enthusiasm for construction equipment. “I come up higher in search results than my manufacturers for certain products,” he notes.
In this case, that personal brand has taken Blevins beyond Mid Atlantic Concrete, and into a new gig consulting with various clients in the construction industry, showing them how to get the most out of their own video content.
But even if you don’t end up with a lucrative filming career, the Concrete Answers approach to content marketing is something for dealers and distributors to seriously consider. There’s nothing to lose. And judging by Blevins’ experience, plenty to gain.
So say it with me now: “Lights. Camera. Content!”